Monday, April 24, 2006

fact or...

This stage of pregnancy is simultaneously more frustrating and more rewarding than previous months. Five months in and I've got energy, I feel great, I'm still going to the gym and most of the time I'm comfortable. Wearing normal clothes I look pregnant which is encouraging, even if it seems like it's actually happening to someone else. In real life, I'm losing weight and looking like a goddess, you understand.

The flipside is that if I'm wearing a big coat or too many layers people can't see that I'm not just a pork pie so I'm often left standing on the train. The only way out would be to unbutton my coat and rub my belly - and I'm sad enough to have done that now so shut up. The thing is that it makes me feel ill and the stopping and starting plays havoc with my balance (and my breakfast) and so I really feel like sitting down and when I can't I feel ridiculously hard done by. It's pathetic. It's a battle between good and evil, between lazy and healthy, between nausea and wanting to beat someone up. My fantasy life doesn't do too well on the train.

The blob is kicking a lot, it's strangely reassuring, even comforting. It makes sitting still a whole new adventure in movement and this is just the start. I won't say that I'm bonding with him, or even that I believe he's really in there, just that there's something strangely enjoyable about having him around. Maybe it's all the extra attention, maybe it's all the stuff I can get away with now that he's in there. I don't know.

I do miss my lovely bike. I pass through the long intestinal corridor of Clapham Junction twice daily in a peristaltic crowd and I miss my bike. I sit, feeling sick, facing backwards on the bus in the seat nobody else wants, look at bikers passing by and I miss my bike. I get up 45 minutes earlier every day and I miss my bike. I cram into the train and I miss my bike, I miss my train and boy, I miss my bike. My bike, languising under tarpaulin in the garden, cold, alone... sniff...

I'm also adventuring into the wonderful world of swollen ankles. I wear nice comfy shoes to work, change into a pair of smart, low heels and at the end of the day, my nice comfy shoes are suddenly a size too small and my ankles feel as if my feet have been wrapped too-tightly in cling film.

I sniff all the time, I grunt when I stand up, my back hurts and I fall asleep after lunch.

But it's ok, it's not the real world.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

some days...

Some days are just rubbish, aren't they? Today was a rubbish day, one of those days when one thing dominoes on to create just enough chaos to ruin it without actually causing any true physical harm.

Actually, today really began yesterday when I managed to drop my brand new rail-card on the bus going home. This rail card is pretty much useless to anyone else. It's limited to go between two stops on a single over-land train journey. It's different than having an Oyster card, Ken Livingstone's new magneto-plastic wonders... no, this is the old-fashioned paper ticket attached to a truly ancient picture-card. I carry it as well as my Oyster and feel tremendously urban and rat-like. It's worth 70p a day.

Anyway, so I dropped it using the powers of my new pregno-brain and didn't notice until I was leaving the house this morning. Deductive reasoning led me firstly to the station Lost and Found. Where they keep Lost and Found in Clapham Junction, I don't know but it must be hard to find as the surly 'customer service' rat who went to look for it took 8 minutes, enough time to make me miss both of the last two trains that get me to work on time and the next one is a half hour wait. So I was late for work. This meant I didn't have enough time to finish all the prep for an afternoon meeting which meant I was late for the meeting, which meant the meeting ran on which meant... and on. Somewhere in between cramming a cheese bun into my face while fondling a spreadsheet and answering my 100th stupid question of the morning I snuck onto the Lost and Found website and in the only bright spot of the day, found my card.

In Peckham, at the bus garage.

Now, Peckham bus garage is, as the name suggests, actually in Peckham. Only 15 minutes from Brixton by car, Peckham is about 40 minutes by bus. It does have a bus garage however apparently no buses go there. I discovered this after asking my driver (number 37 bus to Peckham) 'can you tell me how to find Peckham Bus Garage' and he said 'Don't worry, I go there'. Five minutes later he stopped in a supermarket parking lot and said 'here you are'. On being asked the question 'where is Lost and Found' he said 'Oh, you need to go to Peckham Bus Garage' - this is where he added 'No buses go there'. His directions (go straight on at the roundabout... where the only choices are 'left' and 'right'... 'go under the bridge and go straight... the road only goes 'left' and 'right' then turn right on whatever road... which has NO signposts) finally got me to my card, by which point old Blobsie was doing the Chatanooga Choo-choo on my tummy muscles and I could feel the arches of my feet hitting concrete.

All this because of a rail card designed to go one stop and cost 70p a day. In the real world I would have written it off and bought another however in this new world of wonder-brains I decided to buy a pass lasting 4 months rather than 7 days because I save about 3p a day. This saving means I spent more on this bloody card than on return flights to France. Three of them. Imagine. A woman who has already lost 2 pairs of sunglasses this year buying a credit-card sized piece of paper which has to remain firmly in custody for the next 4 months.

I don't think I'm going to be able to hang on to my sanity for the next four months, perhaps now is the time to accept the temporaneous nature of my rail card.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Boob Shocker Update!!!

Ahhhhh.... like a cup of tea with extra 'oooh', I now have a bra with extra 'aaahh...' A 'braaaaaahhhh' in other words. Two of them in fact.

AND, the nice lady in Fulham (for yes, to her I did tread my way on Saturday) tells me that to dye a cotton bra a nice skin tone so it disappears under a white shirt, one needs tea and salt apparently... so a braaaahh with extra 'oooh'. What a nice lady.

She did however provide another correction to the book of boob mis-demeanours, mis-information and other mis-advice probably provided by men, or women with hopeful little chicken fillets stuffed into their 'B' cups... Advice which states...

...dramatic pause...

...get properly measured, you ask?


Or rather yes... but then (and this is crucial) pay no attention!!!... or at least, just use it as a guide-line.

While this should be obvious to those of us with an extensive bra-drobe containing well-fitted bras in two or three different cup sizes, I have always assumed that the variation in fit was due to me gaining and losing weight on a daily basis rather than the fact that bra manufacturers don't work to standard sizes. I realise this is a tad dim for someone claiming to have boobs and a brain but put it down to... er... um... er... cough cough...

Anyway, all that old-wives guff about measuring around the rib-cage and then around the ladies themselves then taking the difference and calculating pi to work out one's cup size is just that... guff.

Luckily for me, I have a friend with the inside track on bra fittings (she who has passed me on to my Lady of Fulham) who has already informed us of much sounder advice - that in order to fit, apart from the normal stuff about a properly fitted bra not giving one mono-boob (or indeed, quadro-boob) one should not be able to get one's own (or indeed, anyone else's) little hopeful finger between the centre of one's bra (between the girls themselves) and the rib-cage. With the exception of sports bras and some non-underwired support bras which don't hit rib-cage in their journey around the adventurous part of a woman's anatomy, if your bra doesn't touch down, you're in the wrong cup size.

Having said that, however, I was un-prepared for the fact that cup-size is dependent solely on the whims and wishes of the manufacturer. For example, my favourite bra manufacturer Triumph (yes, of the motorbikes), who do wonderfully engineered and sexy bras in large sizes, do in fact tweak (oops!) their sizes to make you think that you are in fact larger than... well, then you are. So, in Triumph land I fit into a 'J' cup at the moment (a triumph indeed) however in Fulham, a humble 'G' will do just fine - and so will an 'F' in a different bra.

This, sadly for me, has been a light-bulb moment indeed, one in which I feel some sort of primeval kinship with all those bra-burners of the 60s. Ladies, those bras were only a symbol of entrapment because They Didn't Fit!!!

The moral of this ramble? Buy the bra, not the cup size.

Aaaaaaaaahhhhh.... ooh!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Would you look at the state of that??

Here is where I reveal the actual size of my new boobs. This is also where embarrassed male relations may need to look away.

I have read cheerful pregnancy books in which doting mothers reveal their partner's joy at the arrival of the boob fairy during their pregnancy. Books in which the knowing writer with a gay turn of phrase discusses the best way to reveal one's new cleavage and emphasises the importance of enjoying it while it lasts. A plunging neckline will, apparently, take people's eyes away from one's disappearing waist-band.

Disappearing, in my case, beneath the shadow of the beasts. I mean, breasts...

Should one have committed the genetic crime of having a voluptuous figure, the reality of pregnancy is something completely different from that of all those care-free day-trippers into the land of advanced cup sizes. Make no mistakes, in many circles, having no need for surgery or chicken-fillets in the balcony department is something over which the polite woman must draw a quiet veil - and nothing is more unmentionable than advancing beyond a humble 'C' cup.

In the real world of true boobs however things are very different indeed - there's a whole secret society lurking in that bra drawer. Little women in Fulham who provide Speciality Services with their measuring tape. Oh yes. Web-sites, contacts passed hand to hand, person to person, crumpled business cards pulled reluctantly from secret wallet pockets, the muttered names of far-away shops, a secret society with one qualification for entrance...

Cup size.

Not any cup size, no. We're talking Extreme Boobs here. Most bra manufacturers consider that providing attractive bras up to a 'Double D' cup is sufficient. Clearly, having large breasts are their own reward and nice bras would just be having sugar on top. Once a woman gets properly measured however and discovers her need for an 'E' cup or above, she enters the shady world of structural architecture and whispered recommendations, knowing glances across the lingerie floor. We Know Our Own.

When such a woman becomes pregnant, she naturally assumes that maternity bras at least will come in larger sizes - and on this, all the pregnancy books go suddenly silent. 'Go to your local maternity shop' they say gaily. 'Buy a good bra' they advise seriously. 'Where the hell do I go?' one screams ineffectively after a failed walk around the shops, brandishing the book over the loo and threatening to drop it in.

The sad truth is that even in pregnancy, one has to rely on the secret network - because maternity bras assume that women may go up 3 cup sizes. So, they go from 'DD' to 'G' and then stop. For those of us who started pregnancy with an 'F' cup, it's back to the woman in Fulham to get the engineering plans drawn up.

This, you see, is my life at the moment. This pregnancy lark is one thing after another and today, it was growing out of the 'G' cup maternity bra that I bought two days ago to see me through to the specialist.

God, is that the time?

Monday, April 10, 2006


There's nothing quite like a long drive - favourite music blasting, nobody on the phone, nothing to do but watch the road. England passing by the windows, spring budding out all over, the sky changing every few minutes - alone.

I was thinking the other day, the other day while riding through London in the sun, going down Park Lane with cherry blossom blowing in the wind that there's nothing even more quite like being on the back of a bike, that you're more alone on a bike than in a car - no music, no radio, the only thing is the road, the other traffic and mostly, on a bike you're not like the other traffic either.

I've got a couple more weeks left on the bike before putting it away under cover for a few months: six, maybe more... almost unbearable... riding it all through the winter only to put it away as the good weather comes... five months into pregnancy is enough, I think, although strangely my leathers are fitting better this week than they did last week... perhaps the blob has moved higher up and further in, avoiding waist-bands like wild-life avoiding a flood.

I'm harbouring fantasies of riding the bike all through the pregnancy and having a baby who can only be lulled to sleep by the sound of the engine... the reality is that shortly I will be putting my baby under a tarpaulin and kissing it a long goodnight.

Today also marks my first foray into marternity clothes, having grown out of all my normal clothes. Comfy, boy are they ever. Maternity clothes for the non-pregnant woman, that's going to be my crusade once this is done.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

Vive la France

Four days in the relative calm and warmth of Biarritz. Four days of lying in, of smelling the sea, of eating good French pastry and... having my belly patted by my in-laws.... only 3 pats tho, one less than I was betting on.

I also got away with pair of knitted blue booties from my mother-in-law, apparently the same pattern she knitted for all her boys ('alors, c'est la meme que j'ai fait pour son Pere' she said, or something similar but more gramatically French) and incidentally all her grandchildren (Blob, should he make it, will be number 6).

I expect this may throw my own Mother into fits of chagrin at either her French counterpart having gotten there first or at the thought that there may now be further expectations in this area. Therefore it is probably worth saying now, here, and in public that I have no knitting, felting, weaving, sewing, embroidering or other home-manufacturing expectations.

The key thing I got away with in France was shopping. Here in the UK, finding maternity gear means either going somewhere expensive and frou frou, somewhere that specialises in polyester and plastic or Mothercare, which hovers somewhere uncomfortably nearer the latter than the former. Big department stores such 'do' maternity if you hunt but in general finding maternity gear seems ridiculously difficult.

In France, however, go into any large clothing shop and there it is, easy to find, well signposted and with rack upon rack of clothes for the expanding pod ('et, retourneras chaque semaine par-ce que les vetements change tout les temps' encouraged the sales dame or words to that effect. I could have hugged her.) Unbelievably cheap as well - amazing. The French, however, don't see it that way ('but of course' scoffs D 'what else do you expect from a country that used to give medals to women who had more than eight babies')


God bless 'em. And their pastries.

It is, however, nice to be home. Sometimes I think that may be the whole point of 'going away', to come back and appreciate the comforts of home just that little bit more - or to find that one is heartily sick of everything and ready to jack in the lot. 'Away' is more of a state of mind than a destination. 'Home' however, is where the cat is, currently curled in a ball with all four feet touching my side, pleasingly happy to see us back.

and so, to bed.